Sexual abuse case continued after mistrial declaration

WELLSBURG — A trial for a Wellsburg man accused of the sexual abuse of a child was declared a mistrial after its intended jurors heard opening arguments from attorneys both sides Tuesday afternoon.

Returning from a lengthy break, the jury was prepared to hear from the first witness in the trial for Keith A. Wood, 67, of Wellsburg, when 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Michael Olejasz told them he didn’t believe a fair trial could occur.

The judge said in light of that, the case will be continued for the March term, meaning it could be heard in March, April or May.

Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki confirmed that in the defense counsel’s opening arguments, allusions were made to statements that hadn’t been admitted as evidence in the trial.

After declaring the mistrial, Judge Olejasz ordered both parties to review their position on the statements and whether they should be admitted in a future trial.

Wood has been charged with two counts each of first-degree sexual assault and sexual abuse of a child in his care.

In his opening arguments, David F. Cross, chief assistant Brooke County prosecutor, told the jurors Wood molested a 7-year-old girl he was babysitting in 2017.

Cross said the victim told her mother she had been abused while visiting Wood.

But William Galloway, Wood’s attorney, said the child told others the incidents occurred when she was 3 and involved a man with a beard, which he said Wood has never had.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)


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